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Ken Druck, Ph.D.

How refreshing to pick up Tori Rodriguez's article in Scientific American MIND making it safe for us to express the full range of our emotions without fear of being judged "negative."

The premium (social status value) on being a positive thinking person has increased in recent years. Stories abound about highly evolved heroes and heroines who flipped the switch and turned things around in their lives, relationships and businesses. I'm old enough to have weathered 3 waves of "positive think" psychology over the decades. Sadly, each of them over-promised and under-delivered, including the latest one, led by a best-selling book called, "The Secret." Don't get me wrong, the upside of positive psychology has been truly empowering. People taking full ownership for managing, shaping and choosing their attitudes, perspectives and beliefs is a good thing, but not to the exclusion of our humanity. The truth is that life sometimes sucks!

Some pain is choiceness. And sometimes, positive thinking is not enough to turn a bad situation around. Living in an "either/or" as opposed to a "both/and" world prevents us from understanding that sometimes we can feel both positive and negative, OK and not OK, broken and whole, scared and excited. These are a few of the real rules I talk about in my book, The Real Rules of Life.

The subtle social pressures to think and feel positive all the time for fear of being judged as weak, inadequate or a failure block us from opportunities to re-balance, heal and grow. Over-simple ideas about how we can change can be dangerous to our health and need to be tempered with reality. Being judged or judging one's self as negative when we're being human is a destructive tradition born of positive think culture. Thankfully, articles and research like this are exposing the dangers and limitations of positive spin approaches. Call me "negative."

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